Brian M

There were many benefits from completing my service learning requirement at the OIC of Carlisle. First and foremost, I was able to understand a nonprofit organization from a first hand experience. Being able to take what I had learned in class and apply it to my experience at the nonprofit really helped my understanding of the hardships nonprofits face, but also the reward of working at a nonprofit. Being a volunteer, for me, was personally rewarding. Doing a job that could eventually benefit something or someone without any reward for doing it outside of self fulfillment was certainly beneficial to me. Lastly, just the knowledge I gained about what it would be like to potentially work in a nonprofit was beneficial. Now, when I consider my career options for the future, I can look back at this experience and remember how it was to work in a nonprofit.

In my service learning, I would not consider my work as personally impacting the people that utilize the organization. Because most of my work was done outside of the OIC of Carlisle, I never actually interacted with nor personally helped those who make the use of the nonprofit. However, my work could and hopefully will potentially help the organization itself by finding more sources for funding. This, in turn, would impact the people that use the organization by giving them the necessary resources to learn and allowing the OIC to use their funding in the necessary areas. Therefore, I feel my work did not personally impact the people, but rather impact the organizational stability of the OIC and potentially help the financial aspect of the future of the organization.

This experience connected to a lot of the work that we did in class and made our service learning work a real life example of it. Specifically, fund raising, volunteer management, competition for resources, and overall management were four aspects that I personally experienced in service learning that we learned about in class. The struggle for financial resources was a common and recurring theme in our class. With my work, I dealt first hand with this struggle by my inability to locate further resources for the OIC of Carlisle. Volunteer management, specifically difficulty of retaining full time volunteers, was evident with my service learning. Because Ben and I were in charge of such a large aspect of the nonprofit, it was clear that the struggle for volunteers was a problem at the OIC. Our struggle for finding foundations also related to the large number of nonprofits in the area of Carlisle. This competition made it difficult for us to approach certain foundations because of their narrow grant giving focus. Lastly, Ben and I were able to see the management problems at the OIC by working directly with their executive director. Although he had time for our meeting and work at the OIC, it was clear that his duties were too much for one person to handle and complete properly.

On Thursday, May 4th at 11:00am, Ben and I met with Dale Cross at the OIC for our final meeting. Mr. Cross had given us two weeks since our last meeting to gather information due to the three of us having busy schedules. For this meeting, Ben and I were to continue to gather information about foundations in the area and have funding proposals looked at and corrected. Ben and I met with Mr. Ben Sweger, VP of Corporate and Foundation Relations in the development office, to help us with some of our questions. Similar to our search, Mr. Sweger was unable to find foundations that were a fit for the OIC, however, he was very helpful in giving us information about grant writing and he corrected the funding proposals as well. Our other assignment was to research foundations in hard copy sources in the library. Ben and I went through two large books that contained Pennsylvania foundations, however, we came up emptyhanded. In our meeting, which last approximately 20 minutes, we told Mr. Cross about our troubles, however, he was pleased that we were able to get him what we had about grant writing.

Through this last assignment, Ben and I continued to be frustrated with our work. We had come across a fair amount of foundations that had similar interests as the OIC, however, either their geographical concentration or their methods of grant giving did not work with what we were trying to find. Also, because we were not able to succeed in this area of our assignment, I felt bad that were not helping. However, our unsuccessfulness did not stem from a lack of effort but rather simply the lack of matching foundations.

I want to relate this assignment to our guest presentation on volunteers. In the nonprofit sector, volunteers are vital in the functioning of an organization. The role that Ben and I took over, however, I felt was meant for someone who had at least a part time role at the OIC due to its importance. The fact that volunteers like Ben and I were put in charge of such an important aspect of a nonprofit, grants and fundraising, shows that one, some tasks simply cannot be worked on because of the lack of employment, and secondly, volunteers can impact an organization greatly. With our guest speaker, she spoke that volunteers were an important part of getting the tasks done and it was certainly evident within the OIC.

On Tuesday, March 28th at 10:30am, Ben and I met with Dale Cross for our weekly visit. For this visit, our assignment was to collect more information on the foundations in which we had previously researched and present the information in packets for him to view. Out of the five foundations in which we had found, we only presented three in packets because through further research, we found that two of the five we not good fits for OIC. However, he was pleased with what we had presented and told us that he would look into them further. We decided that our next assignment would be to meet with someone in the Dickinson College development office to discuss some issues. One issue would be finding more foundations that could possibly fit for the OIC, and secondly, for that person to review sample funding proposals and grants of the OIC and make corrections on them. We decided our next meeting would be in two weeks to discuss what we had done.

Ben and I contacted the development office to try to get a meeting with someone with a lot of knowledge about development and fund raising. We contacted the VP of Development and met with him briefly on a Wednesday afternoon about some of our issues. Although he pointed us in the right direction and put us in contact with someone who would be willing to help us, I couldn’t help but feel a little frustrated. Ben and I had made a previous visit to the development office with no luck, and for this visit, the results were similar. However, the VP told us that we were heading in the right direction with our research and that the man that he put us in contact with would be able to help us further. Therefore, I was optimistic about our next meeting, but also disappointed that we had not gotten the answers we needed.

I relate this service learning assignment to our class presentation with Perry Heath. One aspect of budgeting that we discussed during the class was the difficulty of planning for certain donations while budgeting for the nonprofit. In our case, Ben and I are facing that difficulty because we are responsible for developing possible fund raising sources for the OIC and for the future. Therefore, it is certainly true that budgeting is a difficult task, especially when you are not sure from whom or how much you funding sources are coming.

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